Southwest lawmakers: we stand by zoning

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Speakers of Houses of Assembly in the Southwest, their deputies and their predecessors are calling for the zoning of the presidency to the geo-political region in 2023, 

Many chieftains of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) believe that there is an agreement about the rotation of the presidency between the North and South.

In 2023, President Muhammadu Buhari from the North would have spent two terms of eight years.

Zoning or rotation, according to observers, is one of the hurdles the ruling party must cross to survive and remain relevant. It is more of a unifying factor than a divisive factor. It a core issue that will shape the next general elections.

Speakers of the Houses of Assembly in the Southwest are therefore, calling for power shift to the zone at the expiration of President  Buhari’s tenure of office.

The speakers, who were joined by their predecessors, deputy speakers and other state lawmakers at a meeting in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, also called for unity in the zone.

Regional cohesion is very critical to goal achievement as the impression about disunity may make divisive elements to penetrate through the cracks on the wall of brotherhood. Analysts are of the opinion that a united Southwest is capable of earning more recognition and respect in the competitive polity.

To the lawmakers, it is in the interest of party unity too that the pre-2015 agreement about power distribution and presidential rotation should be honoured to foster trust, mutual confidence and a deep sense of belonging.

The legislators, who lauded the contributions of the All Progressives Congress (APC) national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to national development, said they will support his bid, if he declares a presidential ambition.

Actually, many members of the progressive bloc look forward to 2023 with eagerness and optimism. Eyes are on the national leader, whose campaign train may become another movement, if he decides to throw his hat on the ring. His assets are his antecedent and pedigree as a star federal legislator, pro-demoncracy crusader, a performing governor who laid the foundation  of modern Lagos, his capacity for building bridges of understanding, networks,  and pioneering role as one of the founding fathers of the party.

The lawmakers, who converged on Carlton Gate Exclusive Hotel, maintained that the zone should produce the next president to foster equity, fairness and justice in the ruling party and the country.

At the meeting were 20 current and past speakers of states, who reiterated their loyalty and solidarity with the national leader. The noted that Tinubu is the most colourful politician produced by the Southwest in post-Awolowo era.

Lagos State House of Assembly Speaker Mudashiru Obasa, who was the convener,  introduced the Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) Foundation and Movement to the gathering.

He said the Foundation is meant to propagate Tnubu’s ideas.

Obasa said although the former Lagos State governor has not declared his intention to run for the highest office, it is important to deliberate on power shift and raise awareness about the need for the region to put its House in order.

He urged the current and former speakers to set up the template that would herald the actualisation of the foundation’s agenda, if Tinubu decides to run.

The former speakers lauded the national leader for his struggles in the Southwest, which made the progressive bloc to bounce back to reckoning, following the defeat of the five governors in 2003.

They also lauded his roles in the emergence of Governors Kayode Fayemi(Ekiti), Rauf Aregbesola and Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), Babatunde Fashola, Akinwunmi Ambode and Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo), and  Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo).

Former Ogun State Speaker Titi Oseni-Gomez lauded the membership drive initiative by Tinubu, who never looked down on anyone in the zone. She said she decided to defect to the APC, following Tinubu’s appeal to him.

Former Ondo Speaker Victor Olabimtan lauded Tinubu’s leadership role in the region, stressing that he deserves its bloc support, if he declares ambition.

He advised the national leader to broaden and sustain his networks, contacts and mobilisation in the zone and beyond.

Olabimtan also urged Tinubu to assist in getting more appointments for loyal Ondo APC chieftains.

Other ex-lawmaker praised the former governor for his lack of permanent hostility, his forgiving spirit, accommodation and elevation of party interest above personal interest.

BAT Foundation National Coordinator Ambassador Aliyu Saulawa said the foundation was committed to the push for zoning and power shift to the Southwest.

He said Tinubu is eminently qualified to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari at the expiration of his tenure.

He lauded Tinubu’s option of embracing principle by supporting President Buhari and not former Vice President Atiku Abubakar during the first APC primary and 2019 election.

Saulawa described Tinubu as an outstanding Yoruba man with the capacity, experience and means required for the race.

He said: “Tinubu still needs to do more networking in Yoruba land, especially amongst serving and past governors so that voices of dissent can be reduced to the bearest minimum.

“All stakeholders here present should go back home and start the Asiwaju Tinubu presidential project, pending when he will come out to agree to contest.

“All speakers present must commence beneficial political interaction with traditional rulers across the Southwest.”

At the meeting were Olakunle Oluomo (Ogun), who described Tinubu as a reliable leader and father figure, Dr. Yemi Ikuforiji and his predecessor as Speaker, Joko Pelumi (Lagos), Suraj Adekunbi, Muyiwa Oladipo (Ogun), Asimiyu Alarape and Ganiyu Ojo (Oyo); Prof. Mojeed Alabi, Adejare Bello and Olufemi Popoola (Osun), Ayo Agbonmusemi, Kenneth Olawale, Taofiq Abdulsalam, Oluwasegunota Bolarinwa (Ondo), Kola Adefemi, and Patrick Ajigbolamu (Ekiti).

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